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How are bank rates determined? And why are banks opening fewer branches?

Answers to member questions about rates and branches
April 05, 2018

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How do banks and credit unions determine their rates?

Many factors go into rates, including the institution’s current financial position, its competition, and the Federal Reserve rates. We monitor market rates on a daily basis. Savings and Checking rates may change on a monthly basis; whereas Certificate rates can change at any time through the month.

All about Alliant Rates

When the Meghan Trainer song “All About That Bass” first became popular, our Deposit Products Manager started coming to meetings singing that at Alliant, “we’re all about those rates, ‘bout those rates.” 

Sure, it’s catchy – but it’s also very true. 

Alliant is different than traditional banks and even most credit unions because we’re very rate focused. Great rates are central to our mission to provide superior financial values to our members – and we take our mission very seriously.  Our business model, with its low-cost structure, enables us to offer significantly higher rates than the competition. For comparison purposes, Alliant has retained a 1 percent expense to asset ratio for the past five years compared to the average 3.5 percent across all credit unions.

Alliant has great rates across the board

We take pride in offering among the best rates in the country across all our products. But don’t take our word for it – we’ve been recognized for our top-notch rates by publications like Forbes, Magnify Money, NerdWallet and Kiplinger’s, among others. 

Unlike some of our competitors, we strive to maintain strong rates across all of our products. We also want them to stay consistently high (keeping in mind what’s reasonable given our economic environment). We’re looking out for our members long-term, which is why you won’t see us offering “teaser” rates like paying 5 percent on the first $500 of a savings account and then dropping to 0.05 percent for the remaining balances. 

For instance, a prominent online-only bank pays 0.60 percent APY on checking accounts with $15,000 or more, but only 0.10 percent APY in checking accounts with less than $15,000. At Alliant, we pay 0.65 percent on our high-rate checking account for the entire balance (when you meet our minimal qualifications).

In sum, our rate philosophy is to provide great rates while also keeping our balance sheet healthy. 

How exactly does Alliant determine its rates?

Many factors go into our rates, including: our current financial position, our competition and the Federal Reserve rates. 

Alliant’s low-cost, limited-branch philosophy

You may be wondering – what do rates have to do with Alliant’s limited number of branches? We intentionally maintain limited, cashless branches for cost purposes. Branch visits have been steadily declining for the past twenty years across all financial institutions, and we want to invest where the largest number of our members will benefit. As a result, we’ve chosen to take the money we could spend on branches, and instead, spend it on improving our digital technology, like online and mobile banking, and on security systems to keep your accounts safe. Alliant passes these savings on to our members.  

To provide our members with more convenience, we introduced ATM rebates, up to $20 per month, for members with checking accounts. Alliant provides 24/7 customer service via phone along with an award-winning mobile app, and online banking. We’re committed to providing the best possible member experience, so we’re investigating what that means on a regular basis.